Healthcare IT Blog

Cloud Services: There Is A Solution for YOU

Published on 10/30/2012 by Matt Donahue
Category: Cloud Computing

I recently read an article by Randy Bias, CTO of Cloudscaling, entitled “Enterprise Virtualization Clouds vs. Elastic Infrastructure Clouds” 1.   Mr. Bias outlines two distinct cloud environments:   the “Enterprise Virtualization Cloud” (EVC), and the “Elastic Infrastructure Cloud” (EIC), and talks about the differences he sees between the two.  I highly recommend taking some time to review this article.  While reading this, I began to think about all of the different terms used for cloud computing – Public Cloud, Private Cloud, and Hybrid Cloud, just to name a few.  The definitions and use cases for each of these can be somewhat confusing, and may make it difficult for a CIO or IT director to decide which type of cloud service is the right solution for them.

I hear quite often that MEDITECH is not an application built for the public cloud and I myself have been guilty of making such a statement.  With that being said, I have always viewed a public cloud to be analogous with something like Rackspace or Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services).  I think Randy Bias does a wonderful job showing us that a public cloud is not this simple at all.  Amazon’s AWS and a typical Rackspace type solution can now be classified as an EIC.  While MEDITECH may not be not be an application that can run on what we can now call an EIC today, solutions such as Park Place’s own OpSus|Live solution (which falls under the EVC definition) are more than suited for running your MEDITECH environment.

So what does all of this mean?  Why can I run MEDITECH on an EVC but not an EIC?  I ask myself these questions on a daily basis.  As of today, the EIC has been a proven delivery method for many different use cases.  You have a bunch of web servers you need to run?  How about that single system that you need for testing?  These are two great examples of what works in an EIC.  Why is this?  For the most part, all of the systems are independent of each other.  There is very little dependency between the systems themselves and (for the most part) performance is not the top concern.  If one of your web servers is being overburdened simply spin up a new one and balance the load – no problem – this is something that an EIC is built to handle.

This is not the case with MEDITECH.  A typical MEDITECH system can contain more than 50 servers, all of which depend significantly on one another, with performance as the top requirement.  You cannot simply add another server to run Order Entry if your existing OE server is underperforming.  This is what an EVC brings to the table.  It may not have all of the latest and greatest “cool” technologies and tricks that the EIC does, but it does bring the reliability and performance needed to run MEDITECH, along with all of the benefits of utilizing a cloud system, but that is a discussion for another day.

Selling a solution is not my intention here.  My motivation is to get people thinking about the fact that the concept of the cloud can mean many different things, and that almost all applications can fit into some form of cloud infrastructure.  Next time it comes down to looking at refreshing your MEDITECH infrastructure, a cloud solution is out there and is a viable option. 

 1 “Enterprise Virtualization Clouds vs. Elastic Infrastructure Clouds” from Cloud Computing Magazine Q4 2012, http://cloud-computing.tmcnet.com/columns/articles/312157-enterprise-virtualization-clouds-vs-elastic-infrastructure-clouds.htm

Matt Donahue serves as Senior Engineer in the Office of the CTO at Park Place International. Matt has been working with MEDITECH and their hospital customers for over 10 years across multiple roles as both an end user customer at Saints Medical Center and as service provider with JJWild, Perot Systems, Dell Services and Park Place International. Matt’s current professional goal is to redefine traditional backend infrastructure technologies used by hospitals to allow true adoption of cloud services and achieve an “always available from anywhere” architecture.  Matt studied Applied Mathematics and Physics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and is a regular guest speaker to in their Operations and Information System department.